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France 1990-1994

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Cluny is a small town located in east central France, in Saône-et-Loire Department, on the Grosne River, near Mâcon. Cluny became an important religious center with the founding (910) of a Benedictine abbey here; the abbey became the center of the Cluniac order, noted for its strict adherence to the rule of St. Benedict. The abbey church (mainly 11th-12th century) was the largest church in Western Christendom until the construction (16th-17th century) of Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome. The abbey was closed in 1790, during the French Revolution, and most of its buildings are now in ruins. See stamp below left. 

France 1990. Roman Abbey of Cluny, France France 1990. Philatelic Congress at Villefranche-sur-Saône
  • France 1990. Roman Abbey of Cluny, France. The apricot-colour of the cityscape is particularly well chosen, and related to the French rose of that same colour, named Abbaye de Cluny. 
  • France 1990. Commemorative stamp issued for the 63rd Philatelic Congress at Villefranche-sur-Saône. The logo of the congress is shown just beneath the arch of the bridge. 

Albuisson is an excellent portraitist, which shows already in these early renditions of well-known French poets. Albuisson tells that

When I do a portrait of a person, I try to find the intimate relation between the portrait and the matching landscape. I look for the invisible connections between the lines of the horizon and certain traits of the person's face. I try to establish a synergy between the person and the landscape transverse to the design. This always goes beyond form and shape. 

The below four stamps are designed by Durand-Mégret, and engraved by Albuisson after original drawings by Pablo Picasso and others. The stamps are semi-postals. There are two more stamps in this set, but as they were not engraved by Albuisson, I haven't shown them here. As an aside it should be mentioned that Paul Éluard's first wife, Gala, later married the surrealist painter Salvador Dali, who was a close friend of Picasso. 

Many more portraits will be shown on the following pages. Design of the four stamps by Durand Mégret, and the engraving by Pierre Albuisson. 

France 1991. René Char
France 1991. René Char, French Poet
Original drawing by Valentine Hugo
France 1991. Francis Ponge
France 1991. Francis Ponge, French Poet
Original drawing by Stella Morton
France 1991. Paul Éluard
France 1991. Paul Éluard, French Poet
Original drawing by Pablo Picasso
France 1991. Jacques Prévert
France 1991. Jacq.Prévert, French Poet
Original drawing by Pablo Picasso

Since Albuisson's first success with the stamp from the Forest of Fontainebleau, shown on the previous page, he reverted to nature with this lovely series of French flora from lagoons and marshes.  

France 1992. French Nature. Lys de Mer (Pancratium maritimum) France 1992. French Nature. Rossolis (Drosera rotundifolia) France 1992. French Nature.. Orchis des Marais (Orchis palustris) France 1992. French Nature. Nenuphar Jaune (Nuphar luteum)
  • France 1992. French Nature. Flowers from lagoons and marshes.
    • Sea Daffodil (Pancratium maritimum)
    • Round-leaved Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) 
    • Wlld Orchid (Orchis palustris)
    • Spatterdock (Nuphar luteum) 

The architectural and religious works have always attracted Albuisson with regard to engravings, and one of his best works from this period is the transformation of the below drawing by the French Renaissance painter Nicolas Poussin, which was issued in 1994 to commemorate Poussin's 400th birth anniversary.

France 1994. Nicolas Poussin: Moses and the Daughters of Jethro

  • France 1994. Nicolas Poussin: Moses and the Daughters of Jethro. The original drawing was made in 1648, and belongs to the Louvre Museum in Paris, Cabinet des Dessins. 

The Roman glass window in the Cathedral of le Mans is one of Albuisson's true masterworks. On the backside of the first sketch for this beautiful stamp, which is the property of the Postal Museum in Paris, it reads (translated from French by the webmaster): 

1. Photograph on steel.
The central photograph should be redone on non-glossy paper rather than steel plate, in order to ease the engraver's work (there will be unwanted reflections on glossy paper).
2. In accordance with ITVF the stamp contains a part to be engraved chemically, of which the colour yellow will be applied.
For the attention of Monsieur Albuisson:
The words "Cathédrale du Mans" should be slightly more bold in the engraving. Add a discrete accent above the "E" in "CATHÉDRALE. 

France 1994. First sketch of Roman glass window, Cathedral of le Mans

France 1994. Roman glass window in the Cathedral of le Mans

  • France 1994  First sketch of the stamp, where one can see the slight difference in the letter size and the missing accent in the word "CATHEDRALE".  Scan © Timbres Magazine. 

  • The final stamp of the Roman glass window in the Cathedral of le Mans. What a difference it makes with a coloured background! 

The last stamp in this 5-year period shows a part of the old harbour of Bastia, and the Church of St. Jean-Baptiste. The architecture of the church is typically Baroque style, with its twin-towers rising high above the city. The design of the stamp is by Combet, whereas the engraving is by Albuisson.

Bastia is the capital of Haute-Corse Department on the island of Corsica. It is a commercial, manufacturing, fishing, and wine-exporting center; products include processed food and tobacco items. 

Settled in the 14th century by the Genoese, who built a fortress to protect it, Bastia was the capital of the island until 1791. The city was held by the British in 1745 during the War of the Austrian Succession, but was soon recaptured by the Genoese, who sold the entire island to France in 1768. 

It was occupied by the British again from 1794 to 1796, during the French Revolution. The Germans held the city in 1942-43, during World War II. 

France 1994. The Old Port of Bastia and the Church of St. Jean-Baptiste

  • France 1994.  The Port of Bastia and the Church of St.Jean-Baptiste.  Design by Combet, engraving by Pierre Albuisson. 

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Published June 2005. Revised 08-feb-2007
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